Susy Campanale’s Serie A column: Milan vs. Juventus key for Champions League?

Milan and Juventus club crests

There are some truly fascinating fixtures coming up this weekend in Serie A that could end up being decisive in the battle for Champions League spots. Lazio and Atalanta usually bring entertainment, while Milan are desperate to shake off the controversial defeat to Spezia or risk letting Juventus right back into the race.

Motivated Milan vs. Confident Juve

The Rossoneri have every reason to be upset at their 2-1 home loss to Spezia, as a terrible referring howler did not give the advantage, ruling out what would’ve been a Junior Messias winner. Moments later, Spezia scored on the counter to snatch all three points, leaving the referee reportedly in tears.

With all that in mind, Milan will be more motivated than anyone to get back on track. Sandro Tonali returns from suspension and Ismael Bennacer could be on the bench after Algeria’s Africa Cup of Nations elimination. The COVID cases are starting to drop too, with Alessio Romagnoli available again to bolster the defence.

Juventus are gaining confidence and starting to find the net more often too, despite losing Federico Chiesa for the rest of the season. Considering all of this and current form, a draw at San Siro is pretty likely, with both teams potentially on target.

Lazio-Atalanta guarantees goals…doesn’t it?

The other exhilarating match coming up is on Saturday evening between Lazio and Atalanta. While it’s true we promised goals last week and got a 0-0 between Atalanta and Inter, that was largely due to the extraordinary performances of the two ‘keepers.

This is a different kettle of fish, as not only is there strong history of goals between the clubs (specifically 29 in their last six meetings in Serie A and the Coppa Italia), coaches Maurizio Sarri and Gian Piero Gasperini also guarantee entertainment.

Danilo Cataldi is suspended and there are few other options who can bring balance to the Lazio midfield. On the other hand, Atalanta remain beset by injury and COVID issues. Luis Muriel’s pace can do serious damage to this slow-footed Aquile defence, even if he’s notoriously more effective as a substitute than a starter. Surely there have to be goals here, right?

Fiorentina win, another new Genoa coach and Giampaolo’s debut

Fiorentina should have three points in the bag away to a depleted Cagliari, especially as Leonardo Pavoletti is suspended along with the injuries and COVID outbreak.

Genoa make their debut under new coach Alexander Blessin, their third boss of the campaign after Davide Ballardini and Andriy Shevchenko, fourth if you count interim manager Abdoulay Konko filling in for the 6-0 defeat to Fiorentina. Blessin wants an aggressive, high-tempo performance, but it’s the kind Udinese can make the most of on the counter. It could be a rough introduction to Calcio for the German tactician.

Sampdoria bring in a new coach too, Marco Giampaolo, and he could get a positive result away to a Spezia side who are only ever truly dangerous on the counter-attack against much more aggressive sides.

Serie A Week 23 fixtures

Friday January 21

Verona vs. Bologna

Saturday January 22

Genoa vs. Udinese

Inter vs. Venezia

Lazio vs. Atalanta

Sunday January 23

Cagliari vs. Fiorentina

Napoli vs. Salernitana

Spezia vs. Sampdoria

Torino vs. Sassuolo

Empoli vs. Roma

Milan vs. Juventus

Related matches